WFM Impact Report 2022

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Native Women Leading the Way in Finance

At the Women’s Foundation of Montana (WFM), we believe in the transformational impact of women’s leadership. Women’s leadership strengthens communities and helps them thrive.

This is why WFM is proud to partner with the Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition (the Coalition), a first-time WFM grantee. The Coalition’s work is rooted in the leadership of Native women.

In the Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) industry, it is especially true that women play integral leadership roles, holding 72% of leadership positions. They are leading the way in fostering more inclusive and just financial institutions.

Coalition members self-identify that because of their role as caretakers, of their families and communities, Native women are first to see the harm created by injustice and the first to identify solutions.

To the women leading this coalition, leadership means

putting your community first. Members share a long-term vision of sustaining generations through the development of, and access to, financial products and services designed by and for Native Americans. They have a shared vision to amplify their collective strength into a unified, regional finance industry.

This vision guides their work to secure funds that will address systemic barriers and unlock resources for their communities. In the summer of 2022, the Coalition’s hard work and commitment paid off when they secured, a 45-million-dollar federal grant from the Economic Development Association (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge. This is the most significant single investment into the Indigenous

TOP PHOTO: (Left to right): Charlene Johnson (PDCDC), Teatta Plainfeather (PDCDC), Tommy Robinson (PPCD), and Sharon Small (PPCD) sit together at a working lunch during the Coalition’s New York convening.
Because when women and girls prosper, communities thrive.
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Finance Industry and will be used to seed industry growth and expand economic opportunities in Native American communities in our region.

The EDA grant application process was highly competitive, narrowing a group of 529 applicants to 60 finalists and ultimately giving awards to just 21 winners, including the Coalition. The accomplishment was even more notable because the Coalition had to overcome additional barriers to be competitive. One of these obstacles was a required 20% match of funds committed or ‘in hand’ to be eligible. When less than 4/10th of 1% of private funding support Native led institutions, such match requirements usually create a systemic barrier in leveraging capital. WFM is proud to have been one of the partners who contributed to this landmark opportunity through strategic partnership and investment.

According to Angie Main, the Executive Director of NACDC Financial Services Inc., one of the Coalition members, “the organization plans to use some of the funding for trainings on historical trauma.” She hopes the sessions will help individuals overcome traumatic experiences with money management.

WFM committed support totaling $125,000, designated to the Coalition’s Regional Indigenous Finance Industry Growth Plan and will support Montana-based CDFIs as they serve Indigenous women. WFM is committed to listening, learning, building relationships, and supporting the long-term change that comes from this work. WFM looks forward to connecting the robust network of WFM supporters to the incredible leaders of these CDFIs. As the Coalition says, “economies are comprised of relationships and relationships are the greatest asset we all must invest in.” WFM asks that you join in to strengthen this work. If you’re interested in participating in a learning session about the Mountain Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition, please email us at

What is a CDFI?

Historically, access to basic financial services, affordable credit, and investment capital has been limited for low-income communities and individuals. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) exist to better the economic conditions in markets underserved by traditional financial institutions, private investors, and mainstream philanthropy. Source: US. Dept. of Treasury, CDFI Fund

Native CDFIs promote a relationship based, holistic approach to business and economic development.

The Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition, formed in March 2020, comprises nine Native-led CDFIs supporting Native households and businesses in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. Seven of nine Coalition members are led by Native women.

• Akiptan (SD)

• Black Hills Community Loan Fund (SD)

• Four Bands Community Fund (SD)

• Montana Native Growth Fund (MT)

• Wind River Development Fund (WY)

• NACDC Financial Services (MT)

• Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation (MT)

• Native American Development Corporation (MT)

• People’s Partner for Community Development (MT)

Economic Development Administration (EDA) Site Visit to Eagle Butte, South Dakota with Mountain | Plains Native Regional Native CDFI Coalition

The Power of Endowments

The Women’s Foundation of Montana (WFM) was established in 1999 with a $500,000 challenge grant from the Chambers Family Fund. Merle Chambers, President of Chambers Family Fund, envisioned a permanent resource for women and girls. She partnered with community foundations to help create new statewide women’s funds: Women’s Foundation of Montana, Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, and Wyoming Women’s Foundation.

Each organization established an advisory committee of knowledgeable, committed women who were dedicated to creating a lasting source of support for organizations serving women and girls, building women’s philanthropy, and promoting systems change. Merle Chambers, as one of the initial members of the WFM Advisory Committee, contributed her time, knowledge, and vision to improve the lives of women and girls. In January 2005, the $500,000 from the Chambers Family Fund was matched dollar-for-dollar to establish the initial $1 million of the permanent endowment for the Women’s Foundation of Montana.

Since then, WFM has borne witness as women put energy and commitment behind the struggle for a better life and the sustainability of the whole. WFM worked alongside philanthropic and grantee partners to build resources and create more opportunities for women and girls in Montana.

Merle and all WFM supporters know that the power of an endowment is in its continuity. Over the past 20 years, WFM has granted nearly $1 million. The WFM permanent endowment will continue in perpetuity, meaning more funds to support Montanabased organizations serving women and girls forever.

“When the Montana Community Foundation began in late 1988, most Montanans thought that, as one of our founding members said, ‘endowments and foundations were only for the rich or the dead.’ Fortunately, a little over ten years later, by the time a generous challenge grant from Merle Chambers was awarded to build a foundation for women, many had a much better understanding, due to the work MCF had done. Montana women, many of whom were not rich and definitely not dead, recognized the tremendous value of this important permanent and growing endowment, and around the state came together to raise the $500,000 challenge grant. This was no small amount, but it was a joy working with many Montana women — and men as well — who rose to the challenge with gifts large and small.”

SID ARMSTRONG reflecting on the founding of the Women’s Foundation of Montana when she served as executive director of the Montana Community Foundation

Qualifying gifts to an endowment enable you to take advantage of the Montana Endowment Tax Credit, a direct credit on your Montana taxes. Contact Kylie Gursky at or (406) 443-8313 to learn more. You

Women’s Foundation of Montana makes grants each year from the earnings to organizations benefitting women and girls.

The process repeats, and the impact is lasting!

make a gift to the Women’s Foundation of Montana at the Montana Community Foundation.
Montana Community Foundation invests the gift so the WFM fund can grow.
$ $ $ $ $$$ $

COMMITMENT TO WOMEN’S HEALTH Funding Reproductive Rights

In the weeks after the leak of the overturning of Roe and then the official release of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, WFM donors, grantees, and partners reached out to express anger and fear. It was humbling and emotional to witness. And it made clear the important, urgent work ahead.

At WFM, we believe sexual and reproductive health and

FUND (SWF) is a nonprofit organization and affiliate of the National Network of Abortion Funds working to ensure that no one is denied abortion care due to their inability to pay. The SWF works to remove financial barriers to abortion care and to provide financial support to those who need assistance accessing abortion care. SWF helps pay the cost of abortion care and supports needs related to travel, childcare, meals, and lodging.

Each year SWF sees the number of people seeking support increase. Particularly this year, after the US Supreme Court Decision overturning Roe and with restrictions and bans in neighboring states, requests for assistance and out of state requests have doubled. Client needs are becoming more complex and include expenses related to services, transportation, and childcare.

rights, including the right to abortion, are foundational to women’s equality and empowerment. We support organizations working to preserve abortion access as an essential component of women’s health care.

The following grants, totaling $20,000, were made possible by a grant from the Trotula Fund, a philanthropic partner that works to advance the rights and wellbeing of women and girls.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD ADVOCATES OF MONTANA (PPAMT) is the nonpartisan advocacy and political branch of Planned Parenthood in Montana. They offer a wide range of education and advocacy efforts in support of access to sexual and reproductive care health care and education, along with LGBTQIA2+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans, Queer and/ or Question, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, the countless affirmative ways in which people choose to identify) rights, immigrant rights, and other intersectional issues which impact the mission and patients of Planned Parenthood in Montana. PPAMT also connects supporters of Planned Parenthood in Montana with continued education, meaningful action, and engagement with elected officials.

2022 Women’s Foundation of Montana Grantees

• Montana Budget and Policy Center (MBPC): $5,000

Funds supported the engagement and leadership of women at MBPC’s annual State-Tribal Policy Symposium. Participants got an overview of critical policies that support families and children in Indian country, how a bill becomes law, how to track legislative activity, and how to get involved.

• Montana Native Growth Fund: $1,500

Funds supported the Big Sky Indigenous Women in Fashion and Art Show and Indigenous Entrepreneurs Business Symposium. The events encouraged, educated, and empowered artists to grow their businesses and inspire other designers in their hometown to do the same.

• Montana Women Vote (MWV): $3,500

Funds supported MWV’s annual Women’s Policy Leadership Institute which provided opportunities for people of all backgrounds, ages, and levels of experience to network, discuss policy issues, and build their skills to make their voices heard on issues important to themselves, their families, and their communities.

WFM Advisory Committee

As the WFM Advisory Committee Chair, Amy Allison Thompson works closely with fellow committee members to ensure WFM is having an impact on equity and economic empowerment for Montana women and girls. Amy has a master’s degree in social work and is the Executive Director at the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center.

“Since joining the WFM Advisory Committee, I’ve witnessed this incredible group of women dig into the issues that women in Montana are facing every day. We’re listening to community leaders and organizations who are sharing

Amy Allison Thompson, Chair (Missoula) Barbara Bessette (Great Falls) Kristina Davis (Great Falls)

• Prospera Women’s Business Center: $1,000

Funds supported the Prosperity Party which raises money for the Women’s Impact Grant Program, a statewide program that helps female entrepreneurs take the business to the next level.

• Thrive: $3,000

Funds supported the Girls for a Change Program which provides education, opportunities to promote community involvement and connection, leadership skill development, future college/career readiness, and fosters resiliency in the face of challenge.

• Red Ants Pants Foundation: $1,000

Funds supported the Red Ants Pants Music Festival which raises money for Red Ants Pants Foundation’s Girls Leadership Program, Timberskills Workshops, and Community Grant Program.

• Susan Wicklund Fund: $10,000

• Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana: $10,000

• The Mountain | Plains Regional Native CDFI Coalition: $125,000 over 5 years

concerns around rising inflation, access and affordability of childcare, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), LGBTQIA+ issues, women’s health and reproductive rights, and so much more. I believe in our ability to work together to address barriers to gender, racial, and economic equality for women and girls in Montana. I am excited to be a part of this community that is working to better the lives of women and girls.”

Hillary Folkvord (Bozeman) Jayne Morrow (Manhattan) Camila (Cami) Skinner, MCF Board Liaison (Sidney)

Photo Credit @redantspantsmusicfestival Photo Credit @GirlsThriveMT Photo Credit

Thank you to our donors!

Women’s Foundation of Montana gratefully acknowledges the significant contributions of our friends and supporters from November 1, 2021-October 31, 2022.

Applied Materials

Sidney Armstrong Dolly and David Browder

Kelsey Butcka

Susan Carstensen and Larry Haferman

Clearwater Credit Union

David and Stephanie Cole Cathy and Ned Cooney

Mary Craigle

Cheryl Crawley

Maxon and Kristina Davis

Catherine and Bruce Day

Dr. Janet Dietrich and Daniel Erickson

Donald & Carol Roberts Fdn in Memory of Virginia K. Weston

Jo Ann and Bert Eder

Estate of Mardele Maryott

Jennifer Euell and John Calsbeek

Tom Facey and Maureen O’Malley

Rosella and Ernie Gallegos

Mary Gernaat

Pam Guschausky

Lucretia and James Humphrey

Sheila and Robert Kelly

Deborah and Daniel Larson Sol Lovas

McBride Family Foundation Inc Merle Chambers Fund

Beth Murphy

Martha Newell and Mike Kadas

Nancy and Alan Nicholson

About the Women’s Foundation of Montana

Nancy O’Brien

Ursula Pappas

Carl Prenner

Charlee and David Prince Marvie Redmond Ruth and Kim Reineking

Mary and John Rutherford Sheila Rice

Gregory and Lindsay Schack Dr. Deborah Schaffer Dr. Rachel Schaffer

Callie Schieffer

Barbara and Norman Shallenberger

Aimee and David Shanight

Sara Smith

Cindy Stergar Lisa Stone

Jan Strout

Mark and Candus Suppelsa

Melanie Symons

The Dorsey & Whitney Foundation

Trotula Fund

Kathleen Turner Anne Vander Meer

Wells & McKittrick P.C.

Teal and Nick Whitaker Hon. Franke Wilmer

Dale Woolhiser and Nancy Thompson

Cari and Jim Yturri

The Women’s Foundation of Montana supports positive systemic change that benefits women and girls through strategic grantmaking, policy change advocacy, and WFM-led initiatives. Call: (406) 443-8313 | Visit: Write: PO Box 1145 Helena, MT 59624

Get in touch:

TOP PHOTO: Thrive staff host kids tent activities at Red Ants Pants Music Festival.
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